Cardio

Tabata Protocol: The 4-Minute Cardio Blast!

Sick of cardio? Who isn’t? Drop fat like a bad habit with the Tabata Protocol!

By Frank Hoffman | February 2, 2014

Tabata-Lead

I don’t have time to workout – I make time! Working a 9:00 to 5:00 job is not a legitimate reason to neglect your fitness goals, but it is hella convenient. And it’s not just the nine to fivers who complain, I hear it from dudes at the gym all the time who cry about not being able to get shredded because they can’t set aside 45 minutes to do cardio three days a week. I listen to the excuses all day long and frankly, I’m sick of it. Today, I’m here to preach the power of the Tabata Protocol!

If you’ve never heard of the Tabata Protocol, than you must’ve been living under a rock for the last 15 years. Here’s a brief history lesson. In 1996, while working with the Japanese speed skating team, Dr. Izumi Tabata and his crew at the National Institute of Fitness and Sports decided to conduct a study of steady-state cardio vs. high-intensity interval training. HIIT blew steady-state cardio out of the water and the Tabata Protocol, quite possibly the best supra-aerobic cardio workout ever invented, was born.

Related: Tabata Training

So what is it? The Tabata Protocol requires, whoever has the balls to do this workout, to complete eight 20 second intervals of gut-wrenching exercise followed by 10 seconds of rest after each interval. Sounds easy but don’t get it twisted! If you’re honest with yourself and give it your all for each 20 second interval, you’ll come close to human combustion. Your body will turn into a fat incinerating machine and your muscles will eat through your glycogen stores like last year’s Halloween candy.

If you’re wondering how the hell this is possible in such a short period of time then listen up as I drop some science on you. During your Tabata training you’ll undoubtedly experience extremely heavy breathing which means you’re in oxygen debt because your body has burned through its supply of glycogen (blood sugar) and is looking to replace that energy. It replaces it with fat and throws you into the anaerobic zone. Basically, your body has two fuel systems, aerobic and anaerobic. The goal with Tabata is to blast past your aerobic system by burning through your oxygen supply to put you into an anaerobic state and start incinerating fat. To get there, you need to elevate your heart rate as fast as possible. Just a word of warning though: take it slow. The Tabata Protocol uses negative rest periods where you’re resting only half of the time you’re actually working and can burn up to 9 times more fat than steady-state cardio training, but you’ll have to build up your endurance gradually. Truth be told, with our busy schedules we’re always looking for a quick way to drop some fat. Tabata is the answer!

Here’s my list of favorite Tabata movements and a sample workout…feel free to mix and match: 

•Treadmill Sprints
•Squat Jumps
•Burpees
•Front Squats
•Hang Cleans
•Rapid Box Jumps
•Kettlebell Swings
•Front Push Press
•Mountain Climbers
•Punching Heavy Bag

Sample 4-Minute Workout

20 sec. – Burpees
10 sec. – rest
20 sec. – Kettlebell Swings
10 sec. – rest
20 sec. – Rapid Box Jumps
10 sec. – rest
20 sec. – Burpees
10 sec. – rest
20 sec. – Kettlebell Swings
10 sec. – rest
20 sec. – Rapid Box Jumps
10 sec. – rest
20 sec. – Burpees
10 sec. – rest
20 sec. – Kettlebell Swings

About the Author

Frank Hoffman

fitness stems from his years as a personal trainer. Frank works as a freelance fitness and lifestyle writer while holding down a nine to five job and believes having a full-time job is no excuse to not be fit. Check out his fitness blog at Nine2Fit.tumblr.com and follow him on Twitter at @Nine2Fit.